The U.S. Navy's P-8A Poseidon surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft's mission readiness rate is between 53-70%, well below the mandated 80%, a government report has found.
The Navy began developing and acquiring the P-8A Poseidon in April 2000 to replace its P-3C Orion fleet, which entered Navy service in 1962. As of October 13, 2020, the Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft inventory included 9 P-3C Orion and 104 P 8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) patrol squadrons.
The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that the aircraft’s low mission capable rate occurred because several support offices “did not develop a supportable sustainment strategy for the P-8A Poseidon fleet.” In addition, officials with the Program Executive Office, Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Missions Programs didn’t oversee implementation of corrective actions to address the sustainment challenges that had already been identified in independent logistics assessments.
Other issues found by the IG include delays in identifying and receiving P-8A Poseidon spare parts; failure of the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office and Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support personnel in providing the Poseidon maintainers with “detailed maintenance procedures and technical data” for the platform’s mission-specific systems and equipment.
The P-8A’s maintenance manuals lacked technical data, such as maintenance procedures, diagrams, drawings, part numbers, and part descriptions, which contributed to maintenance delays and low mission capability rates.
While deployed to the U.S. European Command area of operations, Poseidon squadrons grappled with consumable spare parts shortages on items ranging from such as O rings, valve assemblies, bolts, and rivets.
In its recommendations, the IG report states that the Navy needs to implement a plan to address such sustainment challenges in the fleet, while standing up a “demand forecast” for consumable spare parts for when the planes are operating in EUCOM’s territory, while ensuring that five-year sustainment reviews are being conducted.